The unusual way in which the gospel message arrived in this part of West Texas fascinated and puzzled even the first Franciscan missionaries who came to the new world to bring Christianity.
The Franciscans were often approached by groups of native peoples, mainly the Jumanos, who asked not only for baptism but additional religious instruction, claiming that a woman had come to them and preached to each of them in their own language.
This lady was dressed in blue and was known then to the Jumanos as she has now been known for years: The Lady in Blue.
From 1620 to approximately 1631, records show that the Lady in Blue made more than 500 apparitions to the native people, who were fascinated not just with her appearance but with her great compassion, love and understanding. She brought to these humble people the message about the one true God, who gave Jesus to be our Savior and who asked His followers to baptize people in His name.
Who was this fascinating Lady in Blue? After much reflection and profound investigation, all signs indicate that she is Sor Maria de Jesus de Agreda, a Franciscan nun who lived in Spain.
This humble nun, who had moments of great ecstasy, could describe how she was transported to another land and could describe the new world where the Jumano Indians in Texas and New Mexico lived. Maria apparently had the gift of "bilocation," with God using her as the Lady in Blue to bring His message of good news filled with love, compassion and hope to the Jumanos. Reports through the centuries have indicated that the Lady in Blue was seen in what would later become West Texas, near San Angelo, and in the Diocese of San Angelo.
Maria's story involved myth and mysticism and is a story of God using extraordinary means to show compassion and love to His people who lived in this part of West Texas and New Mexico in the early part of the 17th century.
While we may never be able to understand or explain the story of The Lady in Blue and her connection to Sor Maria, we do know that God used an extraordinary means to lay foundations for the beginnings of Christianity in the new civilization. Historical markers have been placed at the confluence of the Concho and North Concho rivers in San Angelo, near where it is believed she appeared.
The historical markers on Rio Concho Avenue in San Angelo serve as reminders of where the first Mass was celebrated in the area and of the meeting between the Franciscans and Jumanos, a meeting said to have been arranged by the Lady in Blue.
– Bishop Emeritus Michael Pfeifer, OMI